• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
"Well, [Mozart] was a great man, and when he couldn't have one sister he took the other, and was happy."
Theodore "Laurie" Laurence Foreshadowing his marriage plans in Little Women

A very simple Love Trope. Bob falls in love with Alice, but Alice does not reciprocate. Bob eventually marries her sister Carol.

Look out for when this overlaps with Double In-Law Marriage.

This can entail a Betty and Veronica situation, where a quiet Betty whom he would never have noticed in the ordinary run of things comes to his attention when his prolonged wooing of Veronica means he sees a lot of her and so comes to notice her profound but not paraded virtues.

See also Does He Have a Brother?. Love Father, Love Son is similar, but with a generational difference.

No, it has nothing to do with someone who decides to settle for their own sibling!

Examples of Settle for Sibling include:




  • Inverted in 'Nexus' as Dante tries to get June to settle for him after his brother disappears.


  • In the 1954 film of Prince Valiant, Sir Gawain hooks up with Princess Aleta's sister Ilene after Aleta ditches him for Val.
  • Played with in The Frisco Kid; the rabbi protagonist is arranged to be married to the daughter of a local Jewish merchant, without having met her; she's vain, selfish, a total flirt and obviously not a good match for him. Her shyer, more modest and withdrawn sister is a much better match... as the rabbi discovers when he eventually arrives in town, takes one glimpse of the younger sister and falls hopelessly in love with her, without having even met his intended bride. He ends up marrying her instead.
  • Happens at the very end of The Palm Beach Story, in particularly zany screwball comedy style as the twin sister getting married looks quite confused and isn't sure quite how she got to the altar (and neither do we).
  • Something like this happens in Like Water for Chocolate. Basic outline: Boy Meets Girl. Boy likes girl; girl likes boy. Girl can't marry because of cultural tradition. Boy can't be around her alone because of a restrictive culture. Boy marries girl's sister to be close to girl.


  • Clarissa — The eponymous character suggests this to Roger Solmes, who wants to marry her, as her sister considers him a good man and Clarissa hates him with a passion. Her family treat this as a huge insult.
  • The Color Purple. Mr. initially had asked for permission to marry Celie's younger sister, but was denied by their father, so he marries Celie against her will instead.
  • Confessions Of Zeno.
  • Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev: Arkady is at first interested in Madame Odintsov, but eventually goes for her younger sister Katya.
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Seems to be the case at the end where Angelina Johnson, who dated Fred Weasley during their Hogwarts years, later married George Weasley, his surviving twin. They named their son Fred.
    • Inversion: Ron had a crush on Fleur (even more than most people), but she winds up with his older brother Bill.
  • Heralds of Valdemar — An unusual variant from this series: Shortly after her father's death young Queen Selenay of Valdemar is charmed by Prince Thanel of Rethwellan and finds herself in a miserable marriage that ends when she is widowed in a "hunting accident"[1]. Some 15 years later Selenay met her late husband's younger brother Daren in person for the first time and they fell for each other on the spot.
  • Like Water for Chocolate. The hero wants to marry the heroine but is told that since she is the youngest daughter, she may never marry. So he marries her sister to be close to her.
  • Little Women. Laurie, The One Guy, may have been able to avert this via liking Amy for who she was, and not as a rebound after Jo turned him down, but readers never have. Die for Our Ship and false "Mary Sue" accusations STILL ensue to this day.
  • Night at the Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian — A variant at the end: Larry appears to be starting a relationship with a woman who strongly resembles Amelia Earhart. At one point, he asks if she's related to her.
  • North And South — Billy Hazard eventually grows disenchanted with Ashton Main's manipulative behavior and starts to see the beauty and goodness in her sister Brett. When he and Brett decide to get married, Ashton doesn't take it well and arranges to have him murdered on the way to their honeymoon.
  • Outlander. A young priest dying of consumption marries his pregnant lover to his impotent brother while on his deathbed. The baby is the heroine's great-something-grandfather.
  • Persuasion. In this Jane Austen work, Charles Musgrove was once in love with the heroine Anne Elliot. She turned him down, and he married her younger sister. No bitterness seems to exist on either side.
  • Pride and Prejudice: This is narrowly averted. Mr. Collins comes to town intending to propose to the eldest Bennet sister, Jane. Upon learning she is almost already engaged, he's content to settle for Elizabeth. When she rejects him, their mother hopes he will continue moving down the line and settle for Mary, but he ends up marrying Elizabeth's best friend Charlotte instead.
  • The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. A variation happens in the short gothic story by Henry James. Two sisters fall in love with the same man. The man marries one of the sisters, who dies shortly after. He then marries the other sister. The story ends with the jealous ghost of the first wife exacting revenge on her sister.
  • Sense and Sensibility: When Edward Ferrars refuses to go through with his Arranged Marriage to Miss Morton, his mother disowns him and considers having her younger son Robert marry her (with no one but Elinor wondering how Miss Morton herself feels about this). Ironically, Edward's Clingy Jealous Girl Lucy, whose secret relationship prompted the feud with his mother in the first place, quickly leaves him in favor of his now much-richer brother, which is just fine as it leaves him free to marry Elinor.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire — An Arranged Marriage version of this takes place. Catelyn Tully is originally engaged to Brandon Stark, a match brought about to secure Lord Tully's support in the looming rebellion. But after Brandon is killed by Aerys Targaryen, his responsibility to marry the Tully girl passes to his younger brother Eddard in order to keep the alliance between the North and the River Lords intact. This turns out to be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage, as they grow to be perfectly happy with each other and have a household of several children.
    • Also in A Song of Ice and Fire Littlefinger seems to be happy with Lysa as he can't have her sister Catelyn until he pushes Lysa out of the Eyrie.
    • This appears to be accepted standard procedure in Westeros as most noble marriages are arranged for political purposes: any time a man dies before he can marry his betrothed, she become betrothed automatically to any surviving (unattached) brother he has. Margaery marries Tommen after Joffrey is killed at their wedding.
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Tess knows she is going to die, so she makes Angel promise that he will marry her sister Eliza.
  • Warrior Cats – Berrynose was in love with Honeyfern, but Honeyfern died of an accident. Moons later Berrynose mated with Honeyfern's littermate, Poppyfrost.

Live Action TV

  • A darker version occurs in New Tricks. It turns out that the victim's brother-in-law was the one who put her in a coma. As he "had a thing for Asian [2] women" and decided if he couldn't have her, nobody could. He tried to make it look like a hate crime and then invoked this trope.
  • Mad Men: Anna Draper, upon learning from our Don that her husband (the real Don Draper) never mentioned her, she muses that he actually preferred her sister who "looked like her but had two good legs." Perhaps this is the reason she was so warm and welcoming to the man who stole her late husband's identity.
  • One episode of Two and A Half Men revealed that Alan had originally asked out his ex-wife Judith's sister then only dated Judith after she said no.
  • Initially played straight and then finally averted on General Hospital. Dr Monica Quartermaine was introduced on the show as the wife of Dr Jeff Webber. It was quickly revealed that she had once been engaged to Jeff's brother, Rick and only married Jeff on the rebound after Rick dumped her and then was promptly presumed dead in Africa. When Rick came Back From the Dead, Monica resumed her pursuit of Rick, but after he became involved with Dr Lesley Williams, Monica decided not to settle for staying married to Jeff and divorced him.
  • On Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Helo was originally in love with Boomer, who was in love with Chief Tyrol. Helo fell in love with Athena, a copy of the same Cylon model as Boomer, when they were set up together by the Cylons on the planet Caprica, thinking that she was Boomer. Helo married Athena some time after learning the truth, and they became arguably the series' most stable couple.
    • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined also has Starbuck, who was engaged to Zak, who died before the series begins, but for much of the series she's romantically linked with his brother Apollo. Although they nearly cheated on Zak soon after meeting, so Apollo may not be the one she's settling for.
  • Prior to the beginning of Game of Thrones, Catelyn Tully had been betrothed to Brandon Stark. But after Brandon was killed by King Aerys Targaryen, Catelyn instead married Eddard Stark, Brandon's younger brother. By the beginning of the series, Eddard and Catelyn are Happily Married with five children.
  • On Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, the backstory of Loren and Dorothy is revealed to be this--he had courted her back in their younger days before she abruptly married someone else. Her sister consoled him and they ended up marrying.


  • Syd Barrett's song "Here I Go" is about a guy who has a crush on a woman who's completely wrong for him, then he meets her sister, finds she's much cooler, and falls in love with her.
  • "My Darling Clementine"

  "How I missed her, how I missed her / How I missed my Clementine / But I kissed her little sister / And forgot my Clementine."

  • "Happy In You" by Whale

Real Life

  • When Eric Clapton fell for Pattie Boyd and couldn't have her because she was married to George Harrison, he briefly shacked up with Pattie's sister, Paula. Paula ditched him, however, upon realizing that she was just a Pattie substitute.
  • Antonín Dvořák initially fell in love with Josefína Čermáková, though she did not love him back and ultimately married another man. Dvořák ended up marrying Josefína's younger sister, Anna.
  • "Does she have a sister?"
    • "Does he have a brother?"
  • As pointed out in the page quote, Mozart did this. When Aloysia Weber turned him down, he married her sister Constanze. They remained married until his death and seem to have done well together.
  • Queen Mary, the paternal grandmother of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, was born Princess Mary of Teck and was engaged to her second cousin once removed, Prince Albert Victor, the son of the Prince of Wales. Six weeks after the betrothal was announced, he died unexpectedly of pneumonia. She and his brother George, now the next in line for the throne (later King George V), began writing letter to console one another, and the following year she became engaged to him instead. It turned out to be an actual love match.
    • The fact that they were better match personality wise helped a lot, Queen Mary was having douths before his death and asked her mother if she could make the marriage an success.


  • According to Jewish tradition, Laban wanted to create a Double In-Law Marriage between his two daughters and his sister Rebekah's two sons--Leah would marry Esau and Rachel would marry Jacob. Because Esau was... a jerk, so to say, a reluctant Leah prayed to God for help, and He arranged events so that both sisters would marry Jacob instead.
    • For that matter, the levirate marriage is a similar custom, where a widow marries her deceased husband's brother (or other male relative). Jacob's son Judah was supposed to follow it when two of his sons died after marrying a lady named Tamar, but didn't do it out of fright for his remaining son andunder the belief she was hit by a Cartwright Curse. Tamar decided otherwise.


  • According to A Man for All Seasons, Thomas More preferred out of the two, the sister of the woman he married, but chose her because "it was the right thing to do." He, uh, didn't elaborate.
    • In Real Life, his motive was that an older sister would, at the time, have found it very humiliating to have a younger sister married first. And they were very happy.
  • In the Paul Claudel play The Tidings Brought To Mary, Violaine kisses a leper and gives him her engagement ring to sell for money. Her fiancee, upset that she's given away his ring and contracted leprosy, marries her sister instead.

Video Games

  • In the DS version of Dragon Quest V, Debora assumes Crispin has a thing for her, and is just 'settling' for her younger sister Nera. It's obvious to everyone else, however, that he genuinely loves Nera and isn't exactly interested in Debora. Played for Laughs, natch.
  • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, if Briggid marries Jamuka or Midir (who start the game with feelings towards her sister Edain), she wonders about this trope. Both of them dispell the idea.
    • Lewyn/Erinys plays with the trope; Lewyn had a major crush on Erinys' sister Annand when he was young, but in a talk event he tells her he's over it and wants to be with Erinys now.
  • In Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Sanjuro, having thought that his girlfriend Kura died two years before the start of the story, has been going out with her sister Kathryn for six months prior to the start. Kathryn loves her sister and is glad to hear that she's alive, but there is some jealousy between them regarding Sanjuro.

Web Comics

  • In General Protection Fault, Maddie is in love with Fooker, but he refuses to choose her over his girlfriend, Sharon, despite having been separated from her by his UGA deployment, and Maddie insisting that he give up on her. Maddie gets together with Fooker's brother, though.

Western Animation

  1. his kinsmen knew he had died during the attempted assassination of his wife, but also knew him and were happy to sweep the matter under the rug rather than deal with the political complications
  2. South Asian, that is